WACO, Texas — The only thing more confusing than the muddled BCS championship picture after No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon lost on the same night might be the explanations given for Kansas State’s 52-24 thumping at the hands of Baylor.
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder didn’t think his Wildcats handled the title of being the nation’s No. 1 team heading into the game very well.
Quarterback Collin Klein, whose status as Heisman Trophy front-runner took a beating much like he did as he matched his season total of three interceptions with three against Baylor, thought KSU was well prepared coming into the game but failed to execute when needed.
But then again, once things started going downhill as Baylor reeled off the final 17 points, running back John Hubert felt like some Kansas State players gave up.
Lack of focus. Lack of execution. Lack of heart. None of that matters for Kansas State now because after Saturday, its season will end with a lack of an elusive national championship.
“I’m just kind of confused,” said Kansas State tight end Travis Tannahill. “I don’t really know what went wrong. I felt like we did everything we’ve done the last 10 games.”
Everything Kansas State (10-1, 7-1 in the Big 12) did in the last 10 games was undone on a night they were thoroughly outplayed by a Baylor team that still isn’t bowl eligible and came into the game ranked 120th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense.
None of that mattered though as Baylor set the tone by driving 82 yards on the first possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead. The Bears led 28-7 at one point in the second quarter. Kansas State tried to make a game of it, but it was more of a tease than anything else as the closest it got to the Bears in the second half was 11 points.
That came on a 1-yard run by Klein with 12:25 remaining in the third quarter. Baylor responded by shredding the KSU defense for scores in its next three drives. Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk, who had to be feeling better Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium than his former team, put the capper on the rout by running 80 yards on the final minute of the third quarter for the game’s final score.
There would be no Heisman moment for Klein, as the next Wildcat drive ended at the Baylor 1 with Klein getting turned back by a host of Bears on both third down and fourth down.
“They took the fight to us and I didn’t have them well enough prepared,” said Snyder, whose team hadn’t allowed more than 30 points in a game this year. “I thought Baylor played as expected, extremely well on offense. I was real impressed by how well they played defensively. We struggled on both sides of the ball quite obviously.”
Kansas State will have two weeks to prepare for Texas and still has a shot at both the Big 12 title and a BCS bowl berth. But on a night where the national championship game now looks to favor a matchup of Notre Dame and one-loss Alabama, that’s not much consolation to the Wildcats.
“It hurts,” said Klein. “It doesn’t matter when that loss comes, whenever it comes it hurts. We just didn’t get done. They prepared and played well. This one stings and it should. We weren’t able to do what we want to do and we’ve just got to keep moving forward and do the best we can.”
Klein’s Heisman candidacy took as big a beating as he did Saturday. While he was only sacked twice, he was pressured throughout the night by the Bears. He completed 27 of 50 passes for 286 yards and two scores. He also rushed for 39 yards and a score.
“We had to keep Klein uncomfortable,” said Baylor defensive back Ahmad Dixon, who had 10 tackles and one of the 10 quarterback hits the Bears delivered on Klein. “If he was comfortable back there, we knew it would be a long night and something that we didn’t want to deal with, especially with a quarterback of his caliber. He’s not a normal quarterback that you see in this league. He has a special gift and we wanted to just make him comfortable.”
Klein’s overall numbers would be OK normally, but he wasn’t even the best quarterback on the field. That honor went to Baylor senior Nick Florence, whose quick release shredded the Kansas State defense for 238 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 47 yards and another score in Baylor’s first-ever victory over a No. 1-ranked team.
The Bears also riddled Kansas State for 342 yards on the ground — the same Kansas State defense came into the game No. 2 in the Big 12 by allowing an average of 100.4 yards a game. Seastrunk alone had 185 yards on his career-high night. Glasco Martin also added a career high 113 yards and three touchdowns.
If the 580 yards Baylor tallied weren’t enough, the three interceptions thrown by Klein didn’t help either. Neither did the seven penalties.
None of those stats reflect a team worthy of No. 1 status, which is something Kansas State doesn’t have to concern itself with anymore. Snyder takes the blame for that.
“I accept the responsibility for not having them well prepared,” Snyder said. “The really only failures in life are giving up, not trying and not caring. I would like to think that none of the young people in that room fit that category. They’re going to be tremendously disappointed, and the sooner the better that turn to anger. Then it’s time to get it behind us because we still have some opportunities to do some stuff.”